Familiarity breeds contempt
Sermon shared by Martin Dale
Summary: God is no respecter of persons. He will use whom he will. There is a danger in our Christian lives that we can miss out on God’s blessings because we fail to recognise God’s messenger.
Audience: Believer adults
The passage that Jesus had just been reading - was a well-known Messianic passage - from the book of Isaiah - Isaiah 61:1-2.
The Jews were looking forward to a Messiah – God’s deliverer who was going to come and release all those in captivity.
This was particularly poignant - as the Jews had been suffering under the yoke of the Romans for about a century (since 63BC). And they were hoping for a political and military Messiah – someone in the mould of Judas Maccabeus – who had lived almost two centuries earlier – and who, in 166 BC had delivered the Jews from the yoke of Antiochus IV, a particularly despicable monarch.
What made Jesus unorthodox was his claim TO BE that Messiah.
Why did the Nazarenes reject him?
Well I think it is because they saw him as “one of them”. In their eyes he wasn’t someone special. Who did he think he was - rising above his station?
God is no respecter of persons – and he will use whom he wishes - as his messenger.
Story: This year is the tercentenary of John Wesley’s birth. John Wesley was actually an Anglican clergyman all his life.
Today, we have great respect for John Wesley in the Anglican Church, but in Wesley’s day he was despised by many in the Church of England. The term “Methodist” was a term of abuse – a bit like the term “Happy Clappy” is used today of Charismatics.
J.C.Ryle (the first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool) in his book “Christian leaders of the 18th Century” had this to say about the opposition Wesley received:
“It is needless to tell a Christian reader that Wesley continued to fight with opposition. The prince of this world will never allow his captives to be rescued from him without a struggle. Sometimes he (Wesley) was in danger of losing his life by assaults of violent, ignorant and semi-heathen mobs, as at Wednesbury, Walsall, Colne, Shoreham and Devizes. Sometimes bishops as an enthusiast, a fanatic and a sower of dissent denounced him. Often – far too often – he was preached against and held up to scorn by the parochial clergy, as a heretic, a mischief-maker and a meddling troubler of Israel.
Calmly, resolutely and undauntedly he held his course and in scores of cases lived down the opposition.” (p.79-80)
There is a danger - in our Christian lives - that we too can miss out on God’s blessings - because we fail to recognise God’s messenger.
The people in Nazareth lost out - as the Scriptures sadly records: "He (Jesus) could not do any miracles there (in Nazareth), except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them." (Mk 6:5) because of their unbelief.
We see in contrast in the second part of our Gospel reading this morning (Mark 6:7-13) the great miracles that the disciples did - when Jesus sent them out into the surrounding villages. Why because their message of repentance was received with faith.
St. Mark records: They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. (Mk 6:13)
We can expect great things from God when we respond to God’s word – regardless of who brings it.
This doesn’t mean we don’t exercise our critical faculties – to discern whether or not WHAT is being taught conforms to Scripture.
But woe betide us if we will only listen to the clergy!
We should be open to hear from God from the
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